There are 101 ways to be stressed every day- here’s how to not let your knitting or crochet project be one of those things.

Whether it’s self-imposed deadlines or the weight of your WIPs threatening to smother you in your sleep, knitting and crochet have been known to produce some anxiety. Wait. I thought yarn crafts were supposed to make me feel more relaxed? How did I get this stressed out about my knitting?! Fret not, my friend. I am going to help you talk some sense back into yourself.

The topic of “yarnxiety” (a pretend term I just made up, in no way to take away from the seriousness of the very real condition of anxiety) is fresh on my mind this week as I push through a complicated shawl design. My thoughts have ranged from “this is the best thing I’ve ever come up with!” to “I’ve done this completely wrong… do I even know how to knit?!” several times… today alone.

So let’s discuss a few things you can do when a knitting or crochet project has become TOO MUCH to handle.

ONE. Take away the deadline.

I cannot think of a scenario where the world would discontinue its rotation if you don’t finish a project “in time”. Sure, it’d be ideal if you could complete that sweet little sweater by the time your nephew is born. Yes, you did promise your sister that you’d knit her two pairs of socks by Christmas. And okay… you did just tell your whole Instagram that you’d be finished with that design this month. But, you know what? I’m pretty sure no necks are going to freeze this winter without you. Sorry, love.

When a knitting or crochet project has a deadline approaching the pressure to finish is real! We get stressed. We might cancel plans. We might injure ourselves knitting late into the night. This is not worth it. Please save your incredible energy for true emergencies. {P.S. When your office adds “knitting deadline” to the PTO list, you may disregard this advice.}

Often when we take the pressure of a deadline off of ourselves, we actually feel more motivated to work on something. When a looming end date makes you side-eye your yarn, you know it’s time to say “sayonara” to the time frame.

TWO. Take a break.

Okay, you’ve nixed the time limit, but you’re still not friends with your project yet. It’s time to take a break from each other. You know how when your significant other goes on a work trip and in his/her absence you remember that you’re still fond of each other? Same thing goes for your knitting.

The time you need “off” from your project is up to you. Usually I just need to set something down until the next day. A good night’s sleep seems to heal a lot. You might need longer with more miscreant projects.

In the meantime, pick up a WIP you love (c’mon I know you have twelve) and enjoy a stress-free evening working on it. You’ll remember that you actually love knitting and crocheting; and that you’re not terrible at it either. You’re just having a rough go with ONE project. And you will figure it out… after you indulge a little more with some of your other projects.

THREE. Try it in time.

Eventually you will need to face the project again. One of two things can happen: you will work on it or you will not. Shocking right? Often the project that’s making us frustrated is a project we do want to finish. So, once you’ve had a nice break from your project, it’s time to get back to it. How do you motivated yourself to work on it again? Let me suggest: a timer.

I know, I know… I just said to throw out any time constraints, but sometimes we really do want or need to finish something. I’m not saying you need to meet your original deadline, and once you starting working on the project again you can figure out what an appropriate goal period would be.

Begin by telling yourself, “I’m going to attempt this again for 15 minutes, self“. Set your phone timer and sit down with the things you need {yarn, needles, computer, beverage} and give it the old college try. At the end of 15 minutes, if all you have done is cry softly into your beautiful yarn, it’s time to put it away again until tomorrow. If you’ve managed to make some headway on your mistake or new technique or whatever was holding you up in the first place, perhaps you might want to add 15 more minutes to the timer and keep going.

Keep working at it until the project frustrates you again. And then {you guessed it!} time for another break.

Projects that require you to keep going through Steps 2 and 3 might not be the right project for you. That brings us to the final step.

FOUR. Make a better plan for next time.

Evaluate your discomfort. Why was this project such trouble? Did you pick the wrong yarn? Did you not listen to your gauge swatch? Did you choose another bottom up sweater with inset pockets? {Those little boogers.}

For me, at least with this current design, I leaped before I looked. I set a design deadline before I started the process. I called for testers before I finished knitting {why do I keep doing that?!}.

Making mistakes in knitting is okay because- it’s just knitting! However, don’t torture yourself by making the same mistakes over and over. If you don’t do well with deadlines, don’t promise to complete projects by a certain time. If you never swatch, start buying an extra skein of yarn. Know yourself and your yarny habits.

For me, I’m realizing that I need twice the time I think I’m going to need. So from now on {hold me to it!} I’m giving myself double the time to design and I am not going to create a pattern release date until I’m totally done with the pattern. It’s slower than I want to work, but I know I’ll be happier for it.

Remember, y’all, it’s just yarn and you are the boss of your knitting.

Love in stitches,

Knitty Natty

2 thoughts on “Yarnxiety

  1. Love this! I talk to so many knitters who are really stressed about finishing projects and there’s really no need to be. I just showed up at my twin nephews birthday with drawings of the design of their new hats and samples of yarn. They loved it, and didn’t care one bit that their presents were not done. They will be done when they are done 😁

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